Driven: 2015 Subaru WRX STi

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Driven: 2015 Subaru WRX STi

So, you want a fun sports car that you can drive all year. Maybe something a little uncivilized , yet practical, without being outrageously expensive? And you want to power slide like a 4×4 pickup through a foot of snow? Not a problem. Today, you can head over  to your local Subaru dealership and purchase a 2015 WRX STi.  It’s the anytime, anywhere, any speed supercar that will put a teenage-boy smile on your face for under $36,000. Yes. Yes.  Hell, yes.

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Subaru WRX shines with STi upgrades for 2011

A quick glance and you may not even notice that there’s something different about the WRX this year.  Take a closer look and you’ll see that the world famous all-wheel-drive sports car has been tweaked. We dive in to the 2011 model, take it for a spin, and find out what’s new.

Specifications as-tested

Model Year: 2011
Make: Subaru
Model: WRX Premium

Engine: 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder / 265 hp at 6000 rpm and 244 lb.- ft. of torque at 4000 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Drivetrain: Continuous all-wheel-drive with 50:50 distribution

EPA Fuel Economy: 19-mpg city/ 25-mpg highway
Observed Fuel Economy: 22.3mpg

Base MSRP: $25,495
As tested MSRP: $30,720

Standard Equipment: Traction & stability control,  all-wheel-drive

Equipped Options:
Satellite Radio & Navigation System [$2,000]

Required Fees:
Delivery Charge [$725]

Driven: 2011 Subaru WRX - Photo: Zane Merva/AutoInsane.com

Subtle and not-so-subtle changes

It didn’t take long for the current generation WRX to get a boost in power. First on sale in 2008, the all-weather sports machine got a 41-horsepower increase the very next year; from 224 to 265.  Now only two years later, the car has gotten another noteworthy upgrade.  This time it’s the exterior appearance, vehicle dimentions,  and suspension pieces that have been tweaked.

Typically, Subaru has differentiated the more expensive STi from the common-man WRX through the use of an STi specific body,  suspension pieces, wider rubber, and more horsepower. Not anymore. Starting this year, the WRX gets all the wide-body/suspension goodies straight from the STi. Although the STi will still have more horsepower, it will now look almost indistinguishable from the WRX in both 4-door and 5-door forms.

The combination of this year’s suspension tweaks and the horsepower upgrades from 2009 are staggering.   The WRX now carries a 2-inch wider body and suspension track.  It’s a menacing, low slung look that also helps the WRX grip. The 2011 is poised, solid, and feels like a civilized street-ready rally car.

Throw the new WRX into a sharp corner on a dirt road and you’ll find it drives like a rally car too.  Although other brands have tried to master all-wheel-drive, we always come back to Subaru as the de facto standard. No other car can match the predictability the WRX offers in the range of road conditions that it can.  In the summer, you’ve got a fast sports car that hugs corners like no-other. In the winter, you have a safe and dependable vehicle that will get you through anything.  Rain, snow, sleet, sunshine; you’re having fun and getting where you need to go.

Driven: 2011 Subaru WRX - Photo: Zane Merva/AutoInsane.com

Despite the wider body and track, weight gain has been kept to a minimum.  The 2011 model is only 34 lbs heavier than the 2010. It’s hard to spot a body panel that hasn’t been changed on the outside, but the interior remains largely unchanged from prior years.  In the cockpit, for 2011 Subaru has added bluetooth and iPod support to the base 6-speaker radio. Our optioned-up “Premium” tester was equipped with the optional Navigation System.

We liked the extremely supportive front seats in the WRX.  They gave plenty of grip around corners without being overly stiff on long drives.  For those cold mornings, the seats also offered two-levels of heat.

Driven: 2011 Subaru WRX - Photo: Zane Merva/AutoInsane.com

2011 versus 2010 – WRX Dimensions

2011 2010
Width 70.7 in. 68.5 in.
Wheelbase 103.3 in. 103.1 in.
Front track 60.2 in. 58.9 in.
Rear track 60.6 in. 59.1 in.
Wheels 17 x 8-in. 17 x 7-in.
Tires 235/45R17 225/45R17
Curb weight 4-door: 3,208 lbs
5-door: 3,208 lbs
4-door: 3,174 lbs
5-door: 3,174 lbs

Driven: 2011 Subaru WRX - Photo: Zane Merva/AutoInsane.com

Conclusion

The original all-weather sports car now looks even better with new STi bodywork.  Suspension and track changes add even better handling to an already great car. One of the few vehicles that’s just as much fun to drive in the winter as it is in the summer.

Strengths

  • Staunch turbocharged engine is smooth and powerful
  • The best all-wheel-drive system on the market, period.
  • Predictable handling, tossable, well centered

Weaknesses

  • Interior plastic trim/console is very shiny and hard feeling
  • Get the navigation system and you lose iPod compatiability
  • Can we please have a 6-speed manual?

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Driven: 2011 Subaru WRX Photo Gallery